Tigers fall at Fitch

By MIKE KEATING
Independent Sports Writer

AUSTINTOWN ‑ Falcon Stadium is a 10,000‑seat facility. It is also a torture chamber to the Massillon Tigers. The Austintown‑Fitch Falcons, occupant of the structure, added to the agony with a 14‑0 high school football decision over the Tigers Friday.

Fitch scored a touchdown on the last play from scrimmage to win the 1986 game, won on a 40‑yard field goal in 1988, and deviated from its running game to capitalize on two touchdown passes to win in 1990.

There were no last‑second heroics or surprises by Fitch in the most recent meeting, but the Tigers were stuffed by the Steel Valley Conference school’s steel‑like defense and lost before 8,000 fans on a cool, breezy Friday night.

The Tigers fell to 2‑3. The last time they had that mark was 1984, Mike Currence’s final year as head coach.

Massillon has also lost its last three games, the first time that has occurred since 1988, when Lee Owens’ first team dropped decisions to Fitch, Akron St. Vincent‑St. Mary and Warren Harding.

The Tigers were shut out for the first time since an 8‑0 loss to Cleveland St. Joseph in the eighth‑game in 1987 on a muddy field in Euclid during John Maronto’s final year as Massillon head coach.

It was a dry field when the Tigers and Fitch played Friday. David Hartman, Fitch head coach and Massillon native, was pleased his team survived a battle of smash mouth football.

“It was a fight,” he said. “They’re much … much better than what we saw on film against Alliance and (Akron) Garfield.”

Jack Rose glanced at the post‑game offensive statistics while seated in the Fitch gym, adjacent to the Tiger lockerroom. The first‑year Massillon head coach was perplexed about his team’s offense. “We cannot score in the red zone,” he said. “We have to get that fixed.”

The Tigers had one scoring drive stopped inside the Fitch 20 and two others inside the Falcon 30. Rose noted the Tigers had problems finishing off scoring drives in both the Garfield and Cincinnati Moeller games.

“We worked a lot in practice on moving the ball inside the 30,” he said. “We’ve tried to get them in a frame of mind they have to execute once they get down there. We’ll just have to keep working.”

Part of Fitch’s defensive game plan was to contain Massillon quarterback Mike Danzy. “We felt he had done so many things against the teams they’ve played,” said Hartman “Our goal was not letting him make any big plays. Their offense is different, but we had to prepare for more things than we did when Lee Owens was coach.”

Fitch took the rollout away from Danzy and that forced him to scramble up the middle, where he was often greeted by a host of players wearing all‑red uniforms. He was either sacked or tackled behind the line of scrimmage five times and finished with minus‑35 yards rushing.

“This was our third, shutout,” said Hartman, “We have a good defensive team.”

Fitch has posted shutouts in three of its last four games, even though linebacker Dan Inglis missed most of the second half after he was ejected early in the third quarter. “The official told me he kicked somebody,” Hartman said.

The Tigers were held to only 83 yards in total offense. “I figured we could get 300 yards in total offense against them,” Rose said. “I thought we could get 150‑160 rushing and 140‑150 passing.” The Tigers unveiled the running game on their first series, but Fitch stopped it without allowing a first down.

Fitch then reciprocated with an 8‑play, 59‑yard drive that was capped by a big play on fourth down. Fullback Shawn Kamrad, 6‑1, 195, made a statement on his first carry when he blasted off left tackle for 12 yards to the Massillon 47.

The Tigers gave ground grudgingly on the next six plays and forced Fitch into a fourth‑and six at the 31.

Quarterback Nick Siciliano rolled left and flipped a pass to Kamrad over the middle. The Fitch fullback caught the ball at the 30, motored upfield, received a punishing block near the 20 and the short pass turned into a 31‑yard touchdown. Joe Ferraro hit the P.A.T. and Fitch led 7‑0 at the 5: 47 mark of the first quarter.

The Tigers responded with their best sustained drive of the game after Dan Hackenbracht returned the kickoff to the 33. Wide receiver Jarmey Elder made a one‑hand grab of a Danzy pass on a slant pattern for eight yards. Dan Seimetz picked up six on a counter‑gap and the ball was at the 47.

An offensive holding call appeared to stop the drive, but Danzy rolled left and hit Jerry May on an out pattern for 18 yards to the Fitch 40. Stinson picked up 12 of Massillon’s next 13 yards on the counter‑gap play and the first quarter ended at the Fitch 27.

On the first play of the second quarter, Stinson blasted off left guard and into the Fitch secondary. He was jarred at the 15, the ball popped loose and Fitch’s Chris Inglis recovered.

Early in the third quarter, Massillon defensive tackle B.J. Payne recovered a fumble at the Fitch 23. Eugene Copeland picked up a yard off right tackle, Stinson was held to another yard on another off‑tackle play and nose tackle Jason Kokoski, 5‑11, 210, diagnosed a screen pass and Copeland was thrown for a four yard loss.

On fourth‑and 14, Danzy rolled right, was blindsided and ‘Chris Inglis picked up the ball at the 30 and was eventually tackled at the Fitch 47.

After the Tigers held, Danzy hit May on a corner route for 34-yards to the Fitch 36. But the Tigers couldn’t net another first down in the drive and Hackenbracht was thrown for a 2‑yard loss on a fourth‑and‑three with 3:28 left in the third quarter.

The Falcons executed their Wing‑T offense to perfection on their next series with Kamrad running the dives and Siciliano running the keeper up the middle or taking the ball outside on the option. The drive consisted of 18 plays, covered 69 yards and was capped by Kamrad’s 1‑yard burst off left tackle. Ferraro’s placement made it 14‑0 with 7:18 to play.

Ferraro, also a defensive back, ended any Massillon comeback hope with an interception at‑the Tiger 45 with less than 6: 00 left to play.

FITCH 14
MASSILLON 0
M F
First downs rushing 2 10
First downs passing 2 2
First downs by penalty 1 0
Totals first downs 5 12
Net yards rushing 24 179
Net yards passing 59 43
Total yards gained 83 222
Passes attempted 12 4
Passes completed 5 2
Passes int. by 0 1
Kickoff average 47.0 50.3
Kickoff return yards 72 21
Punts 4 4
Punting average 29.3 29.0
Punt return yards 10 17
Fumbles 2 1
Fumbles lost 2 1
Penalties 1 5
Yards penalized 11 59
Number of plays 37 50
Time of possession 18:58 29:02

Fitch 7 0 0 7‑14
Massillon 0 0 0 O_ 0

F ‑ Kamrad 31 pass from Siciliano (Ferraro kick)
F ‑ Kamrad 1 run (Ferraro kick)

INDIVIDUAL STATICS

Rushing
M – Stinson 13‑41, Seimetz 3-12, Copeland 2‑3, Hackenbracht 2‑3;
F – Kamrad 23‑105, Siciliano 9‑46, Turner 11‑13.

Passing
M – Danzy 5‑12‑1, 59;
F – Siciliano 2‑4-0, 43.

Receiving
M – May 2‑52, Elder 2,11;
F – Kamrad 1‑31, Moore: 1‑12.

Dan Hackenbracht